The Sitch

So here’s something that’s up: L has withdrawn from law school. I have avoided writing about this for two weeks now, because I was (am) having a hard time figuring out how to talk about something that has such a profound impact on my day to day life but is really someone else’s personal story. But it’s become harder and harder to leave this fact out of my writing here, and the main reason is because life is completely different for all of us (and in a lot of ways, better). The leave is temporary, meaning that he is planning to re-enroll in January 2011 and restart the second semester of his first year.

A lot of you (probably the majority of you) who read Yestertime know L personally, and know what his strengths are (short list: smarts, sharp wit, smarts, intelligent debate skills, smarts, taste in women). You’re probably also aware of at least one of his particular weaknesses, especially if you attended school with him. Ever since I have known L (and long before), he has struggled with deadlines – specifically, deadlines that involve writing. It’s the kind of pesky thing that a person can manage pretty well when they’re younger and have parents to help keep them on task and have all the time in the world for accomplishing personal goals. It’s not an unusual trial to be plagued with – everyone has dealt with it at some point in their life. But then that person goes on to college, where they are now in charge of their own time  management, and it gets a little harder. But it’s still ok, because their time is still their own for the most part, and they can use most of their resources and energy toward getting through each paper and each assignment. And so college is a success, and they are even voted “Most Likely To Succeed” and the stories of extended deadlines and all-nighters become legend, something to laugh about while patting the person on the back with a touch of admiration. After all, when the papers are finally turned in, they are brilliant.

But then comes graduate school. And a wife who needs a partner who doesn’t stay up all night to work. And the deadlines get harder and harder to meet. And then come KIDS, those crazy time-stealers, and it becomes clear that the compensation that worked before is no longer enough to get the job done, and papers begin to feel like insurmountable obstacles, and grades suffer, and spirits lag.

L’s spirits were definitely lagging a few weeks ago, and he wisely decided to take a step back and re-evaluate his situation. He considered dropping back to part time to be able to have more time to focus on his writing assignments, but in the end realized that more time was not what he needed. What he needed was a whole new approach. He has had a lot of support from the school, and he’s been talking to a person (a writing/time management “coach”) who has helped him see that his writing struggle actually has very little to do with the amount of time he spends on it (a fact that was painfully clear to me – you have not ever seen someone work harder or spend more hours attempting to complete a paper, of this I am sure). In the next nine months or so, he will be working on various ways to re-evaluate his approach to writing. He’ll be doing various writing exercises, among other things, and one of those exercises will be blogging, and I have to say that I am sorry for all of you that it will probably not be public, because that guy can write like mess when he gets going.

A side effect to all of this, of course, is that in the interim, he is HERE. We’ve been able to spend the last two weeks as a full-fledged, all-together, bona fide family unit, and though he knows and I know that there are things still to be dealt with and work still to be done, we also know that it has been the best two weeks we’ve had as a family in a long, long time. And what’s more, we’ve had a copious plethora of conversations. About the decision to withdraw and the process ahead of him, of course, but also just about life. You know, like, ‘I had the craziest dream last night’ conversations that start with random descriptions of running a restaurant with Joe Biden and that guy you used to sit next to in organic chemistry in college, and end two hours later with honest confessions of your goals and dreams and hopes for the future. Those kind of conversations.

I don’t know what will happen nine months from now. L could decide to leave law school for good. Or he could decide that it’s really where he’s meant to be and continue on with new skills at part-time status or maybe even full-time status.  What I do know though is that we have been given a new lease as a family. An unexpected situation that allows us to enjoy our time together and not just go through motions simply to make it to another day.  The difference between those two scenarios is immeasurable.

I’ve been really grateful for this small patch of contentment, even with the uncertainty for the future that comes with it. Because these last two weeks have helped remind me that the joy of this life we have together is the whole reason we can face our difficulties in the first place.

April 27, 2010   8 Comments